04/05/2017

Actually, Neil Gorsuch Is A Champion Of The Little Guy

Timothy P. Carney, American Enterprise Institute

Andrew Yellowbear is not the type of plaintiff you would probably call a “good guy.” He is in prison for beating his daughter to death.

But he certainly qualifies as the sort of “little guy” Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee like to talk about these days. Yellowbear, a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is an ethnic and religious minority, and a prisoner. Even among the inmates at the Wyoming Medium Correctional Institution, Yellowbear was reviled. He’s the type of guy who doesn’t have many people looking out for him to make sure he gets a fair shake.

Except for Neil Gorsuch.

The prison in which Yellowbear serves has a sweat lodge. Prison officials barred him from the lodge because Yellowbear required special protection and escorting him to the sweat lodge would be a hassle. Yellowbear sued, but the court ruled against him on summary judgment. Yellowbear appealed, and Gorsuch heard his appeal.

Gorsuch ruled in Yellowbear’s favor on the grounds that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act and its sister statute, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, compelled the prison to go to great lengths to accommodate Yellowbear’s religious observation.

Gorsuch’s opinion in Yellowbear v. Lampert is a masterpiece in religious liberty jurisprudence, laying out how the text of those two laws requires the state to defer to the religious individual, even if the state thinks it has a good reason not to. Prison guards may not become the law and supercede the law, even if they think they know how best to run their prison.

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The Reagan Tax Cuts Worked

Thanks to "bracket creep," the inflation of the 1970s pushed millions of taxpayers into higher tax brackets even though their inflation-adjusted incomes were not rising. To help offset this tax increase and also to improve incentives to work, save, and invest, President Reagan proposed sweeping tax rate reductions during the 1980s. What happened? Total tax revenues climbed by 99.4 percent during the 1980s, and the results are even more impressive when looking at what happened to personal income tax revenues. Once the economy received an unambiguous tax cut in January 1983, income tax revenues climbed dramatically, increasing by more than 54 percent by 1989 (28 percent after adjusting for inflation).

 

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